CQ Exclusive: 'The September Issue' Review + an Interview with the Director!
Will Reid writes...
Anna Wintour is arguably the most powerful person in the fashion industry. Scrap that, she is the most powerful person in the fashion industry. With her bob, sunglasses and array of Prada day-dresses, she is an icon in her own right and her power extends from the pages of Vogue to the rails of Topshop.
When I sat down to the premiere of 'The September Issue' at the Edinburgh Film Festival I wasn't sure what to expect but with rumours of Balenciaga, boucle and bitching, I was excited to see the results of R.J Cutler's 9 months of research at Vogue... And I most definitely wasn't disappointed.
See after the jump for a full run-down of this incredible documentary.
The film starts with Anna (or as it becomes clear is her personal preference- "Ahh-na,") telling the camera how fashion is seen by many as simply frivolous and trivial. But, with a cheeky smile and a steely glare, Wintour explains that those who feel left out perhaps feel they 'are not cool enough.' This moment pre-empts the rest of the film; contradictions and hilarious moments where Wintour's mixture of wit and insensitivity leave the audience both stunned and slightly infatuated.
Throughout the film, Anna has various stand-offs with Grace Coddington (the insightful, kind-hearted and extremely likeable Vogue Creative Director.) Whether it be over editorial pages, the budget, or a simple battle of wills, the pair act as opposing characters and the contrast of their natures is often as telling as it is humourous. At one point, Grace is in Paris and she talks of how Norman Parkinson once told her never to fall asleep in the car because you can always be inspired. Coddington radiates positivity and appears genuinely upset when shots from her editorials are pulled at the last minute.
In another scene, Anna's daughter Bee is seen discussing how crazy the fashion world is and how, while she respects it, she would never want to be a fashion editor. Anna looks up from a copy of Vogue and smiles while stating: "we'll see." Also, when Sienna Miller arrives to be shot for the September cover, she is described as 'lacklustre' and a memo is left on a photo of her that reads "nice ... but teeth."
However, there is an over-riding sense that Anna is not the bitch she is made out to be in films such as 'The Devil Wears Prada.' Granted, she is icy and careless when it comes to the feelings of her colleagues, but the documentary gives you a glimpse of just how busy and pressure-laden Anna actually is. We are witness to someone who is driven, forward, merciless with their opinions but fiercely intelligent and really a bit of a tease. Wintour realises the Ice Queen portrayal of her so often dished out in the media and, up-close, she has fun playing with this idea.
Luckily, the film's director R.J Cutler was at the premiere and I managed to grab a few quick words with him:
CQ: Who was your favourite at Vogue?
R.J.C: I can't say but... I did like Grace.
CQ: Anna once said that she wanted a page of Vogue to be a reflection of the social climate. Did you feel that there was an awareness at Vogue of the economic crisis or were they beyond the realm of reality?
R.J.C: I made the film in 2007 so we weren't that aware of any economic trouble but almost the day we finished shooting, the economy crashed and so I think my film will really act as a historical document. We will look back on this film and fashion folk of the future will be able to discuss what it was like to live under the 'reign of Anna Wintour.'
CQ: How did Anna react to the Devil Wears Prada?
R.J.C: She haaaated it. But, wouldn't you? If someone made a film that attacked you? That was the one thing she asked me not to bring up in the film- apart from that I was given full-control.
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